Category Archives: Oza Home Improvement

Choosing a Home Improvement Company

Get a written contract. Most reputable companies require a written agreement for the work to be performed. Be sure to read the contract carefully, and get written approval from a company representative whenever you request and secure approval for exceptions to their normal operating procedure. This important step could minimize headaches down the road.

Include a release-of-lien clause on the contract. If your contractor will be using subcontractors to complete the job, be sure to include a release-of-lien clause to protect yourself. By doing so, subcontractors will not be able to place a lien on your property if the contractor does not pay them or otherwise breaks the legal terms of their working arrangement.

Avoid large deposits. As the old saying goes, “money is power.” Once you’ve paid for the job, you lose all of your leverage. Most reputable companies will accept a minimum deposit, with balances due at regular intervals over the project’s timeline or when the job has been completed. At each payment stage, be sure that you are satisfied with completed work before proceeding to the next step.

Don’t leave your home unattended or unprotected. Whenever possible make sure you or someone you trust will be available to “supervise” contractors in your home. If you become comfortable with contractors and trust them alone in your home, it’s still good idea to lock up your valuables; Even the best-intentioned people fall on hard luck from time to time, and may be motivated to take something of value.

Don’t help contractors, or lend them tools. Resist the temptation to help a contractor complete a task or to loan him one of your tools. If the contractor is injured, in either of these scenarios, he may be able to make a tort claim against you. Furthermore, many homeowners have reported that borrowed items were either not returned or were broken by the end of the project.

Don’t make a final payment until the job has been done right. Money is your main source of leverage when completing a home improvement project. Don’t weaken your position by paying too early in the process. And never make the final payment until your punch list is resolved to your full satisfaction.

Lodge unresolved issues with the contractor’s licensing board or the Better Business Bureau. Contractors are people too, and will make mistakes from time-to-time. Good companies will do everything they can to resolve these problems fairly. Occasionally, however, a less reputable contractor will not be responsive to your needs. In these instances, report the contractor to his licensing board and request an arbitration hearing. You can also contact the Better Business Bureau or bring a suit against the contractor in small claims court to remedy the situation.

How Much Does a Gazebo Cost?

A garden without a shade structure is a garden you can only enjoy from a distance. Install a gazebo and you can relax and entertain in your garden. How much does a gazebo cost? We look at several types of gazebos and their costs.

Types of Gazebos

A gazebo is any freestanding garden structure that provides shade. A gazebo can be a removeable structure with thin aluminium poles and a cloth top. It can also be a more elaborate structure designed to be a permanent structure.

A gazebo can be small or large. It can be square, rectangular, hexagonal or octagonal. It can be installed on grass or can have a timber or concrete base. A gazebo can be anything you want it to be, from a small shade structure to a larger structure designed for entertaining guests.

Where Can I Find a Gazebo?

You can find inexpensive, portable gazebos at many better hardware stores. If you want a more permanent structure, gazebo suppliers have dozens of designs you can choose from. Often, they have a variety of designs in different sizes, from 3 metres up to 9 metres or more. Gazebo suppliers may make their gazebos out of powder coated aluminium, timber, vinyl or a combination of materials.

If you want a custom gazebo, a gazebo builder can construct one for you or if you have a design in mind, any builder can erect it for you. One advantage to having a gazebo builder do the job is that gazebos are their business and they will have a portfolio of designs for you to choose from. Since their gazebos are not factory built, they can customise your gazebo for you.

Do you want a tropical style gazebo with a thatched roof? A good gazebo builder can create one for you. Do you prefer a simpler metal roof? They can do that, too. If there is a design you like, a gazebo builder or builder can create it for you.

Before you decide to install a gazebo, ask yourself a few questions:

What do we want to use the gazebo for?

  • Where should it be located in our garden?

  • What is our budget?

The first question is important. You may think you just want a gazebo to provide you with shade. After it is installed, you may wish you had made it larger. A poolside gazebo can provide shade for the whole family or you might wish you had built a gazebo large enough to entertain guests.

How much does foundation repair cost?

When do I Know I Need Foundation Repairs?

Foundation problems can occur fairly frequently. Building structures are heavy by nature and when buildings  are structured upon soil that has a weak load bearing consistency you will often discover that you  have a problem with foundation settlement.

Soil compresses (or settles as it is known in the industry) due to a number of reasons. For example the type of soil found around the  base of the house, levels of moisture changing and how soil is replaced after construction can all contribute to soil compression.

Settlement can cause some major structural issues for your home.

The structural integrity of a building depends on its foundations.  Structural engineers know how to build the most stable foundations for all types of soil and land conditions. Unfortunately, there is nothing anyone can do about the natural interaction between the weather and soil. Back in 2005, Australians had to shell out $350 million dollars in home repairs because the drought made the soil dry out and cause house foundations to shift. When heavy rains come, the soil expands and shifts again.

In 2005, alarm bells went off when homeowners started noticing cracks appearing in their walls. These weren’t shoddily built homes, either. In fact, the most damage occurred in double brick homes in prestigious suburbs. The homes were built on clay soil, which expands and contracts more readily than other types of soil.

Exterior cracks are not likely to appear in timber framed homes with cladding that is not rigid

like brick, but there are other telltale signs that you may need foundation repairs:

  • Are windows sticking when you try to open them?
  • Is a door hard to open because it is out of square with the door frame?
  • Are cracks appearing on your interior walls?

There may be other reasons why these things happen, but often they are indications that the foundation is sinking on one side of the house and the house is no longer plumb and square.

It is possible to repair the concrete foundations of your home without the need to rip it all out and start again.

If you discover that your home’s foundations are damaged it is advisable to get repairs done as soon as possible.  As time passes the damage is liable to continue to get worse.

It is also a  good idea to bear in mind this general rule; The longer you take to fix the damage the worse the damage is likely to be.

In addition you should also consider that even if you manage to eventually get the foundation repaired there is still a chance further damage to other parts of the house will also have occurred creating yet more time and expense to sort out.

How Much Does Foundation Repair Cost?*

It is hard to exactly pin point costs for foundations due to so many factors that can influence the total.

Variables that can make an impact to the cost of your foundation repairs include the cause of the foundations damage, how hard it is to gain access to the area where the foundation has failed and the type of repairs used to fix the problem.

Two of the most common methods to deal with sunken home foundations are

  • Piering
  • Slabjacking

Foundation settlement can lead to major structural problems within your home. There are ways to repair a concrete foundation without having to tear it out and start from scratch. Repairing a foundation can be a costly job, but the better educated you are about types of foundations and how best to repair your foundation, the better you can work with your contractor to find a solution you can afford.

With major foundation repairs involving hydraulic piers costing $10,000 or more, and minor cracks costing as low as $500, most homeowners will pay around $3,969 to repair foundation issues.

Here are a few things that can influence the cost of a foundation repair.

Foundation Problems

Foundations that have been built on expansive clay, compressible or improperly compacted fill soils, or have been poorly maintained can have serious damage as the foundation settles and moves. If you see signs of foundation problems, things like cracks in walls or doors that won’t close properly, it is important to talk to a professional right away. Damaged foundations that are not repaired quickly can lead not only to irreparable damage, but to structures that are unsafe. The longer you wait, the worse the damage can get and the more costly it is to repair.

The rule of thumb when you see any foundation issue: the longer you wait, the worse it gets. Even if you get the foundation itself repaired, there may be damage to the inside of your home due to waiting too long that will then also require expensive repair. Often In these cases, much of that extra repair cost could be avoided by acting more quickly.

Structural Reports

If you see that there are foundation issues, it is worth it to spend the money for a report from a structural engineer. A structural engineer has no vested interest in selling you a solution to your problem and so you will most likely get an unbiased opinion as t the best solution for fixing your problem. If you go straight to a repair professional they may want to sell you the solution that seems right for them, rather than right for you. It is better to come to a repair pro, with your structural report in hand and ask them the cost of doing that particular solution.

Below are methods used to address foundational issues.

Smart Guide to Building Costs

Calculating building costs is not easy even for experienced contractors. If you are an owner builder or want to make an independent estimate, the job is much harder and it is easy to make costly mistakes. This brief guide to building costs will help you avoid some of common pitfalls.

Building Costs: The Basics

There are some basic elements of construction you have to bear in mind when estimating building costs. These include:

  • Excavation and foundations: There are reasons why large housing developments are built on level blocks – they are cheaper to build on and the cost of laying foundations can be accurately determined. If you have a sloping block, you will need to factor in extra costs for laying your foundation and may need to have excavation carried out before you can begin building.
  • Building materials vary widely in cost. For example, a timber framed brick veneer home will cost less than a full brick home.
  • Labour costs vary depending on the size of the construction, the complexity of the design and other factors. A single storey home based on standard rectangular construction will be much less expensive than one that includes irregular angles or curves.
  • Finishing costs can dramatically affect the total price of a construction. Finishing costs include the cost of lighting fixtures, flooring materials, bathroom fixtures, kitchen cupboards and dozens of other details.

Estimating Costs

There are a few ways you can put all of these elements together to arrive at a cost estimate. You can attempt to make an extensive list of all the materials needed to finish your home, but this is rarely necessary. Building contractors calculate their building costs based on previous experience and available data to arrive at a rough estimate and then add on any extraordinary costs. You can take advantage of their expertise in two ways:

  1. Contact a few builders in your area and ask them for estimates.
  2. Use an online building costs calculator or a software program.

In either case, you will have to do some preparatory work. Whether they are calculated manually or using a software program, building costs are calculated per square metre. The more accurate your plan, the more accurate your initial estimate will be. Follow these three steps and you will get a reasonable estimate of your building costs:

  1. Calculate the size of your house in square metres using the interior size as your guideline.
  2. There are three rough classifications of construction: basic, standard and luxury. Determine which of these classifications is most appropriate for you.
  3. Determine whether or not your building site is going to be easy to build on or difficult.

With just this much information, you will be able to get a reasonable building costs estimate, but it still may be not be enough. What other extraordinary building costs do you anticipate? Do you want vaulted ceilings? Do you want your roof to be pitched at a steep angle? Are you building a period style home? Things like these may add significantly to your building costs.

If you have taken all of these potential building costs into consideration, you can be reasonably certain of arriving at an accurate enough estimate to determine whether or not the home you want to build fits into your budget. Now is the time to contact the builder of your choice and work with them to finalise the details of your building costs and get started.

The Online Interior Design Services to Know

Calling a taxi, meeting a significant other, shoe shopping—these are all activities that have moved from the real to the digital realm over the past few years, for better or for worse. It’s little surprise, then, that interior design has followed suit. Despite the belief of many traditionally-minded aesthetes that a sofa can’t be purchased nor a room outfitted online, many companies have set out to do just that. AD endeavored to find out just what they all offer, and which are the ones worth knowing. Though our selections offer differing approaches and services, they all seem to have in common a twofold mission: access and passion. “First, we want to provide an affordable design service to as many people as possible,” says Decorist’s Gretchen Hansen. Second, is sharing the love designers feel for their spaces with others. “We ask the question ‘Why don’t I love the spaces I live and work in?'” explains Homepolish founder Noa Santos. “Ultimately, it’s about helping our clients love their homes by creating a great relationship between the client and designer,” Hansen says. “From there the sky’s the limit.”

Decorist

The concept: Founder Gretchen Hansen hatched the idea for Decorist when she found a pair of Milo Baughman chairs she coveted but couldn’t find a way to fit into her home’s scheme. The process is a fitting metaphor for Decorist’s process and demographic. Hansen says most of their clients are fairly design-savvy and come armed with Pinterest boards and magazine cutouts of inspiration. “Our clients already have a strong sense of their style and they are looking for someone to partner with to make their dream room a reality,” the founder explains. Decorist’s partnerships are three-tiered: their roster of 400 designers are divided into Classic at $299, Elite at $599, and Celebrity at $1,299 (this tier includes talents like Celerie Kemble, Jeremiah Brent, Consort, and Campion Platt). The prices include two concepts, messaging with your designer, a personalized shopping list, and a final floor plan and setup instructions.

Though Decorist touts its established designers to attract a discerning clientele, it’s hardly relying on brand names to make a business, instead looking to new technology to incorporate into its interface. “Technology is changing the design landscape very rapidly, both in terms of access and visualization,” Hansen says. “We believe 3-D and AR/VR will dramatically transform the industry in just a few short years. Imagine a time when you can connect with a designer and have a full-fledged, photo-realistic visual of your new room and all of the furnishings, in minutes. You never need to meet the designer in person, go to a store, or select from swatches.” Though that may sound like a nightmare to more traditionally minded aesthetes who rely on a look-and-feel test and relish the process of sourcing, there’s certainly a market for that kind of convenience. “We’re pretty excited about that,” Hansen says.

Best for: The highly informed client; someone looking for a blue-chip designer at a discount rate.

Miles Redd’s 4 Steps to Stunning Painted Floors

When decorating a room, we usually get to work overhauling the walls, furnishings, and window treatments, but a key element is right beneath our feet. Renowned interior designer and decorator Miles Redd regularly uses paint to make the floors pop in his plush and playful spaces. “I love it in an entrance hall, where you’re covering a basic, not-so-special wood floor,” says Redd, who likes to bring a similar wow factor to dining rooms, kitchens, and children’s bedrooms. We asked Redd how to incorporate bold colors and striking patterns underfoot, and tapped Chris Pearson, his go-to painter, for technical tips.

Do the proper prep
You don’t need wood floors to benefit from the transformative powers of paint. Pearson, a specialty floor painter who’s worked on several of Redd’s rooms, has brushed up hardwood, linoleum, concrete, tile, and plastic flooring. No matter the material, Pearson stresses that the surface needs to be sanded down, vacuumed, and swept thoroughly before it gets a layer of primer. He suggests using a brush rather than a paint roller. “Rollers produce an orange-peel texture on the floor—the paint doesn’t adhere as well and it can affect the sheen,” he says.

Invest in quality paint
Springing for high-end paint is crucial to the floor’s longevity. Ask an expert at your local home improvement store to advise on the right type (either oil-based or latex) for the surface you’re working with. “Oil-based paint can yellow but is more durable and shiny,” says Redd, who favors richly colored, high-gloss paints from Fine Paints of Europe. Two to three coats should do the job.

Play with solids and patterns
“Black, white, and tan always work,” says Redd, but the designer definitely doesn’t shy away from more daring choices: “A color or faux marble in an interesting pattern is always transformative to a space.” Before you begin laying down painter’s tape, decide on the effect you want to achieve: A dark, sophisticated tone creates drama; a natural finish like faux bois adds subtle detail; and bold patterns, such as tumbling blocks, have immediate impact and can pull a room together.

Make it timeless
When choosing a pattern that will impress for years to come, it’s important to keep scale and continuity in mind. The size of the motif should be based on the size of the room, though Pearson tells us that the current trend is to go large. To help with the flow from room to room, he uses a combination of finishes—say, wood and marble—to coordinate the floor with design elements from around the house. In terms of making your floor last, physically, a final coat of polyurethane sealer is key to finish and protect it. High-traffic areas might require a touch-up coat every three to four years, but painted floors can stand up to plenty of wear and tear.

Common House-Maintenance Mistakes You Could Be Making

A house is a lot like a living thing: It’s great when the systems are firing on all cylinders, but when something isn’t right, it lets you know. According to a recent survey commissioned by Liberty Mutual Insurance, one-third of American homeowners (34 percent) have faced an unexpected home repair of $5,000 or more. But the truth is that for each of those all-too-avoidable catastrophes, there was a symptom that likely went ignored. “Most of the biggest mistakes that homeowners make revolve around what they are not doing,” says celebrity designer, HGTV personality, and Liberty Mutual Insurance consultant Chip Wade. “Neglecting routine home maintenance and ignoring signs of deterioration often cause permanent damage that ends up degrading the value of your home.” Learning to properly maintain your home can eliminate a lot of the guesswork involved in its upkeep. Here, Wade outlines seven of the biggest mistakes most homeowners make when it comes to their homes—and how to avoid making them in the first place.

1. Failure to winterize properly. “Often, homeowners overlook their sprinkler systems when the cold months hit and leave water in the lines,” says Wade. “When temperatures drop, sprinkler pipes can freeze and break. You may have a rupture and not even know it, costing you tons of cash as water drains into the soil, not to mention the cost to repair the broken sprinkler.”

2. Failure to address water damage. “This can have major consequences down the road,” Wade says. “When you don’t keep your spaces (like bathrooms) dry and in good repair, water damage and mold can start to occur. Within days and sometimes even hours of a condition like this not being addressed, water can penetrate into building materials to a point that can require complete replacement. If water damage stays for longer periods of time, mold can start to occur, which can lead to more costly removal or remediation.”

3. Ignoring appliance maintenance. “Your icemaker (higher-end models), for example, can start to scale up, especially if you have harder water that causes the mechanisms to stop working correctly. You also want to ensure that ice bins remain clean and sanitary. You can do this by emptying them out every month and cleaning with a bleach solution. Larger refrigerators often have water and sometimes air filters that need to be replaced.”

4. Indiscriminate power washing. “Pressure washing too close to masonry on the home is another mistake that can go unnoticed until it’s too late,” says Wade. “Homeowners often don’t realize that if you wash with too much pressure, it can cause mineral deposits to actually seep out of the brick and stone and cause white streaks that are virtually impossible to get off later. While you might think that you’re cleaning, you’re really ruining the masonry.”

5. Improper temperature control. “Closing a vent to help control room temperature might seem like a good idea, but most don’t know that this can cause the furnace to work harder and even lead to damage,” Wade says. “Furnace replacements can cost a whopping $3,500. I’d suggest calling in an HVAC contractor to take a look.”

6. Taping up the walls. “Avoid allowing kids to put tape and other adhesives on the walls. It may seem harmless, but it can pull the paper off the drywall, which can make repairs more difficult.”

Prepare the house for the winter

While the first flurry of the season can be a striking sight, with branches covered in crystalline icicles and yards layered with fluffy blankets of white, by the time the snow builds up over the winter, it can wreak havoc on your home. If you don’t safeguard against the cold, problems can range from the pesky, like climbing gas costs, to the downright worrisome, like flooded basements. “Whether you live in a house on the water or a home in the country, prepping a residence for the winter is one of the most important tasks for homeowners,” says Stephen Fanuka, who worked with Beyoncé and her mother, Tina Knowles, on the remodel of Queen Bey’s former New York City apartment at One Beacon Court. “Pick two or three jobs to tackle each weekend so you don’t overburden yourself. If you start in early December, you’ll be done by Christmas.” Now is the time to set aside your holiday gift list and start checking off the items on Fanuka’s guide for an improved home this winter. See below for his top tips.

1. Trim your trees

“I always tell my clients to prune the trees and shrubs in their yards,” says Fanuka. “If there are any dead branches hiding in there, they could break off and go right through a window of your home during a snowstorm. You want the trees to be dormant before you start trimming, so the later in the winter, the better off the vitality of the tree. However, it’s not going to kill the tree if you do it in late fall. Once completed, take a look to make sure the branches are a good distance away from all windows.”

2. Reroute your ceiling fans

“If you have ceiling fans in your home, you can actually create an updraft by reversing the direction of the airflow,” says Fanuka. “Picture heat blowing from the ceiling vent: It’s blowing in a downward path, and if you switch the direction of the fan, it’s going to push and spread that hot air down to the surface of the room. This will allow you to increase the temperature by a degree or two, saving you not only energy but also money.”

3. Insulate doors and windows

“It’s all about energy,” says Fanuka. “You want to keep your heating costs as low as possible, and one way to achieve that goal is with insulation. Put your hand against doors and windows to see if you feel cold air coming through any cracks. If so, you can buy self-adhesive insulation strips, also known as weatherstrip tape, and stick it right on the doorframe. Sometimes, around the windows, caulk from years before may have dissipated. Go ahead and recaulk those openings, but remember to only caulk the outside perimeters, not the windows themselves.”

4. Review the roof

“You want to check your roof for missing shingles or holes,” says Fanuka. “If there is any damage to the roof, water from melting snow will find a way to get into your home during the winter. You also want to make sure your roof is stable enough to withstand heavy snowfall. If you have a flat rooftop, then blow the leaves, pine dust, and anything else off of its surface because those items trap in moisture when it rains, which, in fact, can create even more damage to the roof itself.”

5. Avoid freezing pipes

“Preventing pipes from freezing is one of the easiest tasks to complete in preparation for winter,” says Fanuka. “First, measure the diameter of the pipe and then go to your local hardware store and buy foam insulation wide enough to accommodate the pipes. Once you place the insulation over the pipe, you are finished. Keep in mind that you also need to be concerned about the water pipes that are against the exterior of the home and automatic sprinklers. With sprinklers, the pipes burst from frozen water stuck inside, so be sure to get all the water out or else you may have to buy a whole new irrigation system the following year.”

Home Projects You Do not Know

With the New Year quickly approaching, you’re probably itching to give your home a seasonal makeover. There are some projects you should just leave to the pros, but others are fair game to try yourself. Mandi Gubler has made DIY renovations and home upgrades her business as the mastermind behind the design blog Vintage Revivals. We asked her to share some simple—but still impactful—ways you could update a space without having to hire a contractor, and she offered five ideas you’ve probably never thought of before. (And they’re easy on your wallet, too.) Your weekend is about to get way more productive.

Wallpaper

Gubler swears you can turn a blank wall into a visual masterpiece with nothing more than a ruler and paint pen. “Not only does this faux wallpaper look expensive, but you can do it all by yourself for under ten bucks.” Not the best artist? No worries. She suggests sticking to a straight-lined pattern that can be measured out in pencil beforehand.

Brick façade

There’s something so charming about exposed brick walls, but they’re a rarity. Forge your own Brooklyn-style façade with thin brick veneers—available in bulk at most hardware stores—and Omnigrip. “This project is surprisingly doable and adds one-of-a-kind character to a small space,” Gubler explains.

Wood flooring

Installing your own patterned wood flooring at home is easier than you might think—and costs less than $80. With the help of some hand-cut geometric pine pieces and a brad nailer, these boring linoleum floors became a sophisticated scene. “The hardest part is just replicating the same shape over and over to fill up your space,” says Gubler.

Design Resolutions to Start 2017 on the Right Foot

If, like most Americans, the weight of 2016 has put you in the emotional negative, now’s your chance to achieve the balance you crave. Every new year brings with it the promise of clarity, an overwhelming sense that your best self is attainable and that you have the motivation to make it happen. But where to begin? You can resolve to improve your health or prioritize your career—lofty goals, indeed—but you’d be surprised what a little housekeeping can do for your soul. Start by identifying all the projects you’ve been putting off for a rainy day and mastering them one at a time until they’ve all been checked off your list. Need to organize that closet? Carpe diem, my friend. Been meaning to refresh your living room for aeons? Today is as good as any. Here, we’ve rounded up seven projects to tackle in 2017. You’ll be impressed by how much lighter you feel—both physically and mentally—once your home becomes as uncluttered as your mind.

Reinvent your closet. Getting your wardrobe—and where you keep it—in order can not only help you maximize your space but also streamline your morning routine, making your day more efficient before it even begins. Click here for a guide to closet organizationto get started.

Get to work. Whether you work from home or bring your work home with you, a designated space that inspires creativity and productivity gets the job done. Here are some tips for carving out a home office of your own.

Take more spa days. A little everyday luxury goes a long way. Turn your bathroom into a place that can revitalize you each morning and replenish you in the evenings—and skip the costly trips to your nearest hotel or gym. See our tips for creating a serene spa bath.

Engage in some color therapy. The force for reinvention, whether it’s an update in a living room or a refresh in a bedroom, is strong during the long winter months. If a full makeover isn’t in the budget, go bold by adding accessories in bright hues or textiles in unexpected patterns. Here are some ideas for decorating with color.